Croatia: NUJ expresses concern over increasing use of SLAPPs
Over 900 active cases including those against journalists are burdening courts and attempting to censor the press.
The National Union of Journalists has joined the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) and the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) in recognising the need for an urgent change in law, to end the growing use of strategic lawsuits against public participation (SLAPPs) to silence and harass journalists in Croatia.
A survey by the Croatian Journalists' Association (CJA) has uncovered 951 current lawsuits across the media including those targeted specifically at journalists. Analysis from the CJA highlights that only eleven cases brought in previous years against journalists have been upheld.
The financial detriment by individuals defending SLAPPs are often significant. CJA data indicates current lawsuits are demanding a combined total of over ten million Euros, with some claims including "shaming", permissible under the Croatian criminal code.
The NUJ supports the IFJ, EFJ and CJA in calling for an end to the use of SLAPPs to limit reporting through intimidation.
Anthony Bellanger, IFJ general secretary, said:
"Having at least 951 lawsuits against journalists and the media reveals that the judicial persecution of journalists in Croatia is a serious problem that must be addressed without delay.
"A big majority of these lawsuits are legally unjustified but aim to intimidate and drain the financial resources of media outlets and journalists. We support CJA’s call on the government to address this scourge urgently."